I recently sat down with a winery owner and had a discussion about how he and his team decided upon the name for the wine they are producing – Cannonball.
It’s a winery based out of Sonoma and though they have their own vineyard, they also purchase grapes from surrounding vineyards in the same region as their winery. It was interesting hearing him describe the regions that surround him and the differences they have on the grapes and the wines. Cannonball is in a junction spot; on one side of the vineyard is Anderson Valley and on the other is Dry Creek Valley (where the vineyard is located). Dry Creek Valley gets more cool climate effects, the wind off the ocean still reaches the valley and cools it off at night. Anderson Valley, on the other hand, is warmer and misses the effect of the cooling breezes Dry Creek receives. Due to this, Cannonball selects their grapes depending on which region they will grow better in.
I was able to taste their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. As Cannonball’s vineyard is located in the cooler area, they grow Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay varietals. In their neighbouring region, Anderson Valley, they purchase Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to produce their wine. The wine could speak for itself in terms of value for price – which is ultimately the goal of the winery owners – but I will speak for my two favourites in the line up. Number one: Sauvignon Blanc – a quintessential wine for most repertoires it was juicy, racy, and very representative of the grape itself. Notes of gooseberry, cut green grass, a little green apple, it was mouth filling and high in acidity, making you want to taste even more. Number two: Merlot – this was a ripe, juicy and energetic wine. There was cherry there but it was ripe and darker than the bright red cherry normally found in Merlot. There was also vanilla, cassis, purple plum and perhaps a hint of sage on the nose. The mouth was smooth and round, no harsh tannins – though enough tannin present to still provide room for ageing a couple of years – with lasting delicious flavour. It was definitely a crowd pleasing wine.
Now I love wine, and I definitely loved tasting Cannonball, but I think one of the most interesting elements of the meeting was him describing the reasoning behind his label. There appears to be a trend in the wine world today that wineries are not following the traditional labelling systems and are looking for ways to stand out. The Cannonball label is not one you would necessarily gravitate towards, but once you hear the story you might change your mind. Cannonball decided upon their branding image by thinking about all of the things they didn’t want to be – traditional, extreme, rigid, etc. Instead, they thought of the first time they had wine and the feelings that became their essence – carefree, joyous, liberated and enjoyable. They also wanted their brand to be the every-night wine. Something that is recognizable, affordable, approachable and most of all representative of the grape varietals. The label needed to represent all of those elements. One thing led to another, and the thought of childhood and how you are carefree, joyous and liberated during the summers and the freedom you feel, for example when you cannonball into the pool. In essence, Cannonball also wanted their wine to provide that feeling of enjoyment and the image that this picture with the young boy jumping into a pool or a lake enjoying his time. Cannonball wines are meant to be enjoyed and drunk the day you buy them. They are a perfect way to get friends together and enjoy a night out with friends.